In my never-ending quest to find a fitness routine that's both challenging and unique, I recently decided to give both CrossFit and P90X a try. Below I've provided some of my own observations and recommendations for the two fitness programs that are so often compared to each other.
Dollars and Cents:
In the battle between CrossFit and P90X, one of the main things that draws people to the latter is definitely the cost. For under $150 you can purchase the entire P90X system which includes "12 extreme training routines," a nutrition plan book, and the P90X fitness guide which breaks down which DVDs you should be using for each workout phase and the order in which you should be doing them for maximum "muscle confusion". If you haven't caught a P90X infomercial on TV I would strongly suggest watching the video below to see if it's something you're interested in and ready to commit to:
trying out a crossfit gym
The inflated membership cost was probably my main gripe with CrossFit, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway to see if it was worth the hype. When searching for an affiliate (a.k.a "box") in my area it was nearly impossible to find one that offered a monthly rate under $150. I bit the bullet and signed up for a 3 month membership at a local CrossFit box, but I knew going in that spending over $2,000 a year on a fitness program wouldn't be sustainable. If you're thinking of trying it out I would strongly suggest visiting a couple different CrossFit affiliates in your area to speak with some of the Coaches and to watch a WOD (workout of the day) before locking yourself into anything. I think the video below is great for anyone thinking of trying it out:
Are You a Lone Wolf or Part of the Pack?
It's no secret that the CrossFit community is extremely supportive which is why as a former high school and college athlete I thought it'd be good to join something where I could be part of a team again. The coaches and members of the box I attended were great from day one, but I did find it kind of disconcerting to have to compare myself to my peers at the end of each WOD up on the whiteboard. I had almost wished that there was another level class between the initial mandatory two week fundamentals class and throwing you in with people who've been flipping tires for years.
As I progressed through the three months I started to inch up the gym leaderboard, but found that the program as a whole wasn't really having a life-changing effect on me like most people describe. If anything I learned that I really hated Olympic Lifting and even found myself skipping some of the WODs where I knew we'd have to do Clean and Jerks, Overhead Squats, Front Squats, etc. Long story short, my three month membership came to an end and I went back to my normal routine of running and doing free YouTube workouts.
CROSSFIT FOR FREE
I need to mention that you can do CrossFit without belonging to an affiliate. Every day, CrossFit headquarters posts a daily WOD on the CrossFit.com website. You can find over ten years of daily archived CrossFit workouts here. Unfortunately you need access to Olympic Weights, a pull-up rig, a medicine ball and concept II rower to complete most of the workouts. If you have access to a relatively empty commercial gym or your own garage gym, then you could theoretically do CrossFit for "free". This is really only a viable option for people who have some experience working out at a CrossFit affiliate and have learned the basic movements.
X Gon' Give It To Ya
I have to admit that after I stopped doing CrossFit I lost some muscle and the "bad ass bitch" look that I had developed. Something had to change...At the recommendation of my brother I started doing P90X about 6 weeks ago. With P90X (and this really applies to any home DVD system) I'm basically just competing against myself which has its benefits and drawbacks. If I need to stop for a couple extra seconds for a water break or don't do a particular move to my max there's no one in my face telling me to push harder. Unless you've roped a friend or significant other into working out with you it takes a good amount of mental toughness to follow the workout that P90X has laid out in their fitness guide to a T.
I thought the 6 day workout with 1 day of rest was a little excessive but stuck to the plan anyway. If you choose their "Classic" workout plan, you start out by doing the following sequence for three weeks (All the videos are between 45 and 55 minutes long with about a 5 minute warm-up and cool-down:
- Day 1: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X (15 or so minute standard ab workout)
- Day 2: Plyometrics (This was actually a really great cardio workout. They also have a Cardio DVD which I found to be essentially almost the same DVD).
- Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
- Day 4: Yoga X (This definitely deviated from the workout but I found this DVD to be super boring so I just substituted it with their Core Synergistics workout which combined cardio and stretching).
- Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X
- Day 6: Kenpo X (Basically just P90X's version of Tae Bo, sans Billy Blanks)
- Day 7: You can either watch their DVD on stretching or do absolutely nothing (I opted for the latter).
After the first few weeks I felt that kind of soreness where it hurts to put deodorant on in the morning and you feel like you can't leave the house without a Hoveround, but that soreness faded away after about a week or so. To give credit to CrossFit, I think I was sore for those entire full three months I was doing it. I'm currently finishing up "Phase 2" of P90X now which is another 6 day cycle that incorporates new muscles like triceps and biceps into the mix. After this I'll move onto "Phase 3" which again has the same 6 day cycle of exercise with one day of rest.
The one major caveat with P90X that I've noticed on a lot of the message boards is that people seem to be pretty much done with it after they reach the end at week 13. I imagine it'd be pretty monotonous to start the whole process back over again with Mr. Horton and company doing these same workouts in the same sequences. I think if you're looking for something longer term with more variety you may want to consider something like CrossFit (if you are a fan of Olympic Lifting) or even consulting a personal trainer who can keep you on your toes. For me personally, I think I'll return to my regular routine of running after week 13 and continue to integrate these P90X DVDs two or three times a week.
Do you have a preference between P90X and CrossFit? Tell us what you think below!